UN hits defiant Iran with new sanctions as Tehran refuses to drop nuclear programme
By MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE
Last updated at 7:36 PM on 9th June 2010
The United Nations today approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over a nuclear program Western powers suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
There were 12 votes in favour of the resolution. Lebanon abstained while Turkey and Brazil voted against it.
Just hours earlier the U.S., Russia and France had earlier dismissed a proposal by Iran to swap some of its enriched uranium for reactor fuel, diplomats said.
In progress: The U.N. Security Council begins its crucial Iran sanction meeting in New York today. The council approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over a nuclear program
The three diplomats familiar with the replies said they contain a series of questions that would have in effect stalled any negotiations on the issue - and generally diminished any chance of talks because they present Tehran with indirect demands that it is not ready to meet.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed receipt of the three-nation response and said it would be passed on to Tehran.
The U.S., Russia and France have said that - unlike the original plan drawn up eight months ago - the swap proposal negotiated by Brazil and Turkey would leave Iran with enough material to make a nuclear weapon. And they noted that Iran intends to continue a new program of enriching uranium to a higher level.
The reply by the three nations was confidential. But Glyn Davies, the U.S. chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, appeared to outline those U.S., French and Russian problems with it in comments to a 35-nation meeting of the IAEA board.
Beyond that, he said Iran appeared 'determined to defy and to obfuscate' international attempts to probe its nuclear program for suspected attempt to make nuclear weapons.
'The fundamental issue remains: Is Iran willing to met its international non-proliferation obligations, build international confidence, and enable the IAEA to provide assurances as to the peaceful nature of its nuclear program?' he said in comments to the closed session made available to reporters.
'The (IAEA) director general has told us that Iran is preventing the IAEA from doing so.'
A European Union statement also criticised Iran for stonewalling attempts to probe its nuclear activities and refusing to heed U.N. Security Council demands for a freeze on enrichment, which can make both nuclear fuel and fissile warhead material.
Speaking on behalf of Europe's big powers - Germany, Britain and France - Ruediger Ludeking, Germany's chief IAEA delegate, separately said that Iran was 'continuing on the path of confrontation and non-compliance' with U.N. Security Council demands.
But his Iranian counterpart, Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the meeting that 'illegal resolutions' by the council will not stop his country from exercising its 'legitimate right to develop its nuclear program'.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday called the new U.N. sanctions against Iran's suspect nuclear program the toughest ever.
She said: "I think it is fair (to say) that these are the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced.
'The amount of unity that has been engendered by the international community is very significant.'
In the final version of the U.N. resolution, sanctions will be tougher than previous penalties but still far short of crippling economic punishments or an oil embargo.
The sanctions would ban Iran from pursuing 'any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons', bar Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibit Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles.
Annexes to the resolution would target 40 new Iranian companies or organisations, including 15 linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard.
The sanctions list also includes 22 companies or organisations involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities and three entities linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
Following the resolution's approval, the number of entities under sanctions has more than doubled from 35 to 75.
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